A subtle defacement of the website of electronics manufacturer Foxconn has drawn further attention to an alarming spate of worker suicides at a plant in southern China. Nine of the workers at a Shenzen plant where iPhones and other hi-tech kit is assembled have killed themselves this year, with a further two unsuccessful suicide …
What's the penalty
What's the penalty for breaking the "I won't kill myself" clause of your employment contract then? The sack?
The penalty for the pancake involved is normally death.
You get a good beating from the security team and then you disappear
This keeps the layoff costs low, the overheads low and the profits really high for the fatcats
Please don't mention Dell or...
or Hewlett Packard when referring to Foxcon suicides. We all know it's Apple and Apple alone who is the culprit here.
Do try to get back on message.
If we're pointing fingers at Foxconn, a company who's management methods and worker treatment allegedly induce suicide, it seems fair to me to include anyone doing business with them -- especially if they're investigating said practices in order to reevaluate their relationship with said company.
Nintendo, who have sold countless hundreds of millions of consoles since the DS and Wii came out.
No, just put on the Clarkson wig and get yo' hate on.
hate to break it to ya
but a lot of Foxconn parts go into Nintendo hardware too.
So since the article specifically states "Foxconn" instead of "Apple" it *does* bring in Nintendo and all other buyers as well.
Trying to add to the myth that Apple is somehow being persecuted insults the tragedies of those who have taken their own lives and attempts to deflect the debate through intellectual dishonesty.
Same as certain American politicians screaming "racism" at every criticism-turning things into an emotional debate over things that have nothing to do with the actual policies that need discussion.
@Not as bad as you think....
>For males aged 25–44
90% of workers there are aged 18-24.
As to conditions likely to encourage suicide...
Most workers never leave the campus as they don't earn enough money (average salary is $132 a month) to shop or engage in leisure activity in the outside world - the cost of living is much lower, but not that much lower.
Since almost all production workers do 12 hour shifts with only a single meal break, 6 days a week, I guess they don't have much time for anything else but sleep and saving anyway.
Even with this level of exploitation, Apple still only manage to make a 100% markup on the Jesus Phone - imagine how much they would actually cost if workers had the basic human rights and working conditions of western labour.
...but play your smug Googled statistic games and don't worry, its only human misery.
"Working at this site actually LOWERS the rate of suicide"
WORKING at ANY site lowers the rate of suicide. Work conditions need to be appallingly bad to make suicide statistics worse than for say unemployed people - and often were working conditions are bad, the suicides are hidden by accidental death. This story makes news because the statistics are bad compared to those for other companies doing the same work, not compared to a national average were other factors come into play.
The other major factor for suicides is people who are about to join the unemployed, either because they are about to be made redundant, or because they face the sack (probably unfairly), or they have been told they face the sack if they don't produce 150% more output.
So, the problem isn't that they work at Foxconn, the problem is that Foxconn is in Taiwan?
Easy peasy - insource them back to US or UK... where the job probably came from in the first place. A lot less suicide attempts (successful or not) and decrease unemployment in a Western country. Win-Win.
You sound guilty...
The fact that you are using a computer which is probably manufactured through said human misery is hypocritical at best. I bet you own a jesus phone too.
Here's a thought: what would their lives be like without any jobs? I am guessing they would be like the happy slum dwellers in India who lead a rich, free life picking through garbage mounds for scraps of food. It is not smug to point out that the suicide rate at this factory is utterly tiny given the number of workers. It is smug and naive to suggest that people who work at this factory are miserable by default because you happen to judge their wages menial or their tasks tedious. Try visiting the third world then talk of human misery where it actually exists.
Higher, higher! Lower, lower! Freeze!
As far as I could establish from a recent BBC report, the suicide rate at this company (rates of suicide per 100,000 exployees) was actually somewhat lower than the average amongst the wider population.
Where's the story?
"the controversial Shenzen facility where 300,000 live and work on Tuesday "
What do they do on the other days?
They live and work on Tuesday, yes. The other six days they just work, no time to actually live.
300,000 employees live and work there? Is 10 suicides a year actually all that unusual for such a large population? Stats in the US at large show about 20 suicides per 100,000 people per year. Not a great comparison, obviously, but realizing how big that place is puts this story in a totally different perspective.
That's a friggin' HUGE facility.
Par for the course?
According to WHO, the suicide rate in China is ~25 / 100000 / year (http://www.who.int/mental_health/prevention/suicide/suiciderates/en; data is quite old, but I wouldn't expect the rates to change *that* much). So in a facility of 300000 we'd expect about 75 suicides a year.
So what we're seeing is, of course, tragic --- but is it actually out of the ordinary?
A DHTML page served by IIS5 on Win2K server would not be difficult to locate or altar; the firewall, however, could be much more tricky to bypass.
As far as I understand it the suicide rate in the UK is around 15 per 100,000 - to have 11 from a staff of 300,000 is not really much of a story is it now?
Is it actrually
That the workers have actually offed themselves at the facility rather than the the fact they've killed themselves?
As in it's the location of the suicides that's the unusual thing rather than the quantity?
I don't actually know, I'm asking the question, I CBA to do the research and I'm hoping someone knows.
"workers are getting asked to sign promises not to kill themselves"
@richard padley 1
You can't argue with statistics? WTF you smoking dude? Lies, damn lies and statistics!!! It's a fact that 85% of statistics are made up, but only 40% of those were taken from a poll of 55% of the population and 62% of those didn't know what statistics are.
Just ask the IE team or the Firefox team if you can/can't argue with statistics.
That statistician in me does wonder how relevant those headline suicide rates are.
I do wonder what the rate would be amongst those in gainful employment and without critical illness. I would suspect (in the abscence of any inclination to check) that it would be somewhat lower than that.
However, given the size of the facility it wouldn't seem to be *that* high a rate and those that are depressed could be seeing it as their way to get some noteriety in their dull and monotenous (I'm guessing, they live in a factory after all) lives. Probably the same thing that happened with that cluster of suicides in Bridgend (which has a tenth of the population and a WAY higher suicide rate)
Silly people - it's because it's the Holy Factory of Appleness and since Apple make SUCH a big deal of how utterly groovy life with Apple is, people sort of expect that attitude to apply to the happy and blessed few who are allowed to assemble the end product.
The Imperial Steveness (may his pooh never smell) wouldn't exploit anyone, surely?
no suprise here
Why let facts and statistical analysis get in the way of a great news story?
I can see the Mail tomorrow; Suicide gives you cancer. A study at a facility in China etc....... a story that would just be as worthwhile in my opinion.
Suicide is a tragedy, but it is also a fact of life so I hope they don't sensationalise it.
Arbeit macht frei
I have owned a foxconn motherboard in the past - It was the biggest joke ever, maybe this explains a lot.
Apple should maybe adopt the same labour techniques that the Nazi's used to build the V2 rockets (it sounds like there not far off.)
So Apple and Microsoft hideously exploit people (who would have thought that..).
Not heard of a Chinese forced labour camp working for a Linux company yet (i'm sure we'll hear of google (a Linux company) Gulag's as soon as someone escapes...)
One minor problem there Ted.
Linux runs on hardware that's made in China.
Careful hacker, they'll throw you off the roof if they find out it was you!
Tombstone because that's where they're headed.
Of COURSE it was "HACKERS"
I mean, there's no WAY that anyone who works at Foxconn would screw with the site like this as a form of protest. No, it was those dastardly HACKERS. Those HACKERS! You know they can HACK just about anything. All those antigovernment messages must have been HACKERS. All those trojans in Google were done by HACKERS. All those attempts to spy on the Dalai Lama's email were just HACKERS...
I don't think they were suicides....
I think they may have 'borrowed' some of steve's toys and their deaths have been made to look like suicides by the nice people at Apple.
Whoah, wait a minute...
.. Windows 2000 and IIS 5. Did the sysadmin commit suicide too?
The numbers wouldn't be out of line, except that there are only 100 of those people there that actually work on apple products, so the "suicide" rate is quite high.
Web security admin just through himself into the etching bath.
This isn't just in China...
...It's in a state-of-the-art Western-supported business where perhaps we might expect better conditions and support than the rest of China?
At least one death is reported to have taken place after a roughing up by security staff. How rough was that encounter? Statistical levels aside - what were the actual causes behind these incidents - are there any other common factors in these deaths? The pressures on young people in China these days are known to be enormous - serious workplace bullying is endemic. If there's no criminality, is there at least serious omission and lack of care? In a country that admittedly has a soaring suicide rate, should we perhaps be expecting more support within Western-contracted businesses at least?
In a country with a communist government on the one hand and some of the most ruthless businessmen on earth on the other, I imagine the odds of ever finding the real truth are pretty slim. Especially if no-one's looking.
It's all about the hits
You had to include "iPhone" in the title to get hits for the article, thought the relevance of the article has little to do with the device. That's just fucking pathetic.
But WHERE were the suicides?
A few people here are trying to compare suicide rates from the general population and I don't know about you but if I would, on a day I would commit suicide that's a sick leave day from work.
It is significant that the employees were at work.
The danger of statistics
Obviously they have been taking lessons from France Telecom/Orange who claimed their suicide rates were below the national average. When taking figures of work related suicides into account you need to look at workers in the same industry. Compare statics for any individual company against suicides in the unemployed and you will always get a lower figure.
.......here who googled the numbers from their iphones perhaps?
Dedicated iPhone users don't google things. They just sit there with their finger poised over the search button, waiting in breathless anticipation for the glorious day that His Steveiness announces the new Apple iSearch service.
Remember the epidemic of the flesh eating bug?
A couple of years back UK papers got their knickers in a twist (US='panties in a bunch') about an epidemic of necrotizing fasciitis. Turned out, iirc, that there were actually fewer incidents of that very rare condition that year than normally occur on average.
Simple explanation - some journo hears about event 'x' and recalls hearing of a similar event 'x' in the tolerably recent past. So there's clearly an epidemic of 'x'. Each report then piles on top of the last in a vicious circle.
is there an app for that?
Maybe Foxconn have just cottoned-on to the "Dead Peasants" Insurance so gracefully given to the world by corporate America!
I'll jump at the chance!
If you went to Bridgend, you would want to top yourself as well
My first serious girlfriend *cough* came from that town. She used to jump off buildings for fun as well (really, she did!). The hospital there also had a bit of a one-way reputation as well.
instead of comparing "general population" to Foxconn
why not do an actual apples-to-apples comparison? What is the suicide rate for other big companies? I work for a government agency of over 5000 users. We've had only one death that could possibly have been suicide in over a year and a half. (possible based on the fact relatives may have not wanted the actual cause of death released-could have been accidental too). We've also only had one individual murdered in over two years.
These rates are much much lower than the general population, which contains recent and long term unemployed, illegal immigrants, gang members, mental health and drug issues (we're screened which deters many) and all sorts of society-normal problems.
If our organization happened to have merely half the rate of suicides and murders of general society, it would show massive problems that would need correction.
So until the study is done correctly, comparing suicide rates among the corporation employed instead of the general population, the numbers being presented are worthless.
Fail because all the current numbers are spun to either defend or destroy, not to address or solve the current problem. Kinda like America's current Administration modus operandi.
How about these apples?
So, your company employs five thousand people and has had one suicide in one and a half years.
This company (according to Reuters) employs eighty-four times more people than your company (four hundred and twenty thousand employees), so comparing apples to apples they should have had around eighty-four suicides in the last year and a half...that makes your company a suicide trap!
You also seem to forget other variables such as cultural differences (e.g. the Japanese and Koreans are far more likely to top themselves than the English), the sector and industry type, the weather, the personal circumstances of the employees.
There is a massive difference between working in an office in the UK and working in a factory in China. Your apples to apples would need to be for a company in the uk which employs the same number of employees...so find me a private company (not government agency/department) which employs 0.7% of this country's entire population!
..would be for the Western companies to install their own Line Managers in Foxconn, as a requirement for continued business. From personal experience, I know that Nokia really is an ethical company (no bullshit, I sincerely mean that, even remembering they made me redundant at the peak of my career*), and I have no reason to suspect that the other users of a - WTF?? 300,000 strong factory§ (Jeez..population of Coventry??!! **) wouldn't follow suit. Might put a quid or two on your shiny new Jobsworth, but I think folks would be happier. Both ends of the supply-and-buy chain. Probably less than they give each year to a "save the whales" fund.
§Oddly, criticism I read today came from an unexpected - to me anyway - source...
http://www.chinapost.com.tw/business/company-focus/2010/05/29/258552/Nokia-Sony.htm Perhaps because it's a Taiwan-owned company.
*Maybe it was an uphill climb, and at the summit I just fell off the North Face.